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As Newsom leads California recall polls, Larry Elder pushes baseless fraud allegations

WASHINGTON – Republicans in California’s recall election on Tuesday are already laying the groundwork to claim the election was stolen – even before a single poll is reported or a winner is declared, a tactic more and more common in conservative circles.

Republican Larry Elder on Monday called on his supporters to use an online form to report fraud, saying he had “detected fraud” in the “results” of California recall elections “leading to the reinstatement of Gov. Gavin Newsom as governor “.

The only problem: On Monday, when the link was live on Elder’s campaign site, the election hadn’t even taken place yet. No results had been published. And Elder was still campaigning to replace Newsom as governor.

“Statistical analyzes used to detect fraud in elections held in third world countries (such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran) detected fraud in California, which allowed Governor Gavin Newsom to be reinstated as governor, ”the site says. “The main analytical tool used was Benford’s law and can be easily reproduced.”

The site added a disclaimer on Monday afternoon saying it was “paid for by Larry Elder Ballot Measure Committee Recall Newsom Committee,” with major funding from Elder’s gubernatorial campaign.

The most recent polls show Newsom will likely survive the attempt to impeach him in Tuesday’s recall election. Elder and other Republicans have already started to book a potential loss due to baseless allegations of voter fraud, following the script written by former President Donald Trump.

“It’s really becoming the standard GOP playbook,” said Lee Drutman, senior researcher at the New America think tank that studies democracy. “This is democracy 101. If you don’t have an accepted and decisive election, then you don’t really have a democracy, because the alternative is violence or authoritarianism.

There was no evidence of electoral fraud in California.

Elder’s website asks voters to submit affidavits of evidence they witnessed voter fraud, targeting those who would support him after election day. It was first reported by the Sacramento Bee.

The site was registered anonymously in August. As of Monday afternoon, Elder’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment on its inclusion on its campaign site or whether it produced the page. Hours later on Monday, the warning about his campaign funding the site was added.

California has a long history of postal voting, but decided to send a ballot to every registered voter in the state for the first time in this race, which fueled false rumors about the ballots and their designs.

In an interview with NBC News on Monday, Elder repeatedly declined to say whether or not he would accept Tuesday’s election results.

“Let us all work together to find out whether or not tomorrow’s election is a fair election,” he repeated repeatedly under pressure.

Concerns about electoral fraud have simmered for decades among the Conservatives. But after Trump made his lies about the 2020 election a GOP goal, other candidates appear to be trying to exploit the predisposition of the conservative base to believe in a massive conspiracy between Democrats, media and election officials. to run elections – even in races that aren’t particularly close or where Republican officials are in charge.

A recent NBC News poll found that 60% of Republicans living in blue states are unconvinced that their state can administer elections fairly. And 59% of Republicans say they believe Trump won the 2020 election is an important part of being a Republican, according to a new CNN poll, even though, of course, Trump lost.

“No one should be surprised by allegations of voter fraud, it’s the holy grail of the GOP right now,” said Jason Cabel Roe, a Republican strategist who worked in California. He was the executive director of the Michigan GOP until he was forced to step down for saying the 2020 election was not stolen, but that Trump “messed it all up.”

It’s not just Republicans. In this year’s New York Democratic primary for mayor, Eric Adams, who ultimately prevailed, attempted to lay the groundwork during the campaign to invoke voter fraud.

In California, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans registered by almost 2-1, and Elder only has support for about a quarter of the electorate. So it wouldn’t be particularly surprising for a Democratic governor to survive an attempt to impeach him.

But most California Republicans believe Newsom will be recalled, according to a recent survey by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

And so, in the first big statewide election since 2020, Republican thought leaders are already preparing to cry foul if things don’t turn out the way they hope, setting a precedent that could be followed by others in the future.

“Does anyone really believe that the California recall election is not rigged?” Trump said in a statement Monday.

“They’re going to cheat, we know that,” Elder said last week in Santa Barbara.

Elder, the controversial radio host who heads a group of 46 candidates vying to replace Newsom, tells supporters concerned about the fraud to go to his website to report “anything suspicious.”

The Elder campaign home page under the heading “Stop Fraud” links to the StopCAFraud.com website. The site is soliciting donations for him and is asking his supporters to sign a petition “demanding a special session of the California legislature to investigate and improve the twisted results of this 2021 recall election.”

The site appears to be presupposing the outcome of the race, claiming that fraud was already detected in the election and Newsom won – even though polling day is not until Tuesday.

The page suggests voters may turn to the “ammo box” if they can’t trust the ballot box.

“They say that in America there are four boxes of freedom. The soap box, the urn, the jury box and the ammunition box, ”the website read, pledging to take legal action. “Will we now have to fight the California jury lodge, in the hopes that the final lodge – the closest to Pandora’s – remains closed?”

Elder, an Ivy League graduate lawyer, initially denied Trump’s baseless allegations of electoral fraud – but turned the tide after the Tories responded.

“I think Joe Biden won the election in a fair and candid manner,” Elder told the Sacramento Bee editorial board in August.

Trump’s allies who are otherwise aligned with Elder raked it on the coals for the comment. In a few hours, Elder tweeted, “Do I think there was some shenanigans in the 2020 presidential election? Yes.”

Since then, Elder has repeatedly claimed that the 2020 election was full of “shenanigans” and warned “that they will try that in this election here,” as he said on Fox News earlier this Sunday. this month.

These unsubstantiated claims have been echoed by conservative commentators like Fox News’s Tomi Lahren, who said on the conservative cable network: “The only thing that will save Gavin Newsom is voter fraud.

Neither Trump nor Elder have presented evidence of fraud and election officials in California say there is none.